I know a Montanan woman named Barbara who got fed up with the number of drunk driving accidents in her community. One Saturday she decided she was going to do something about it. She thrust down the local paper with the dismal drunk driving statistics, galloped to the bar a block from her home and cornered the bartender. She said, “For the love of God, when you see someone has had too much to drink, take away their keys and send them to my basement. The door is unlocked. They can sleep there.”
Now, on weekends, when there’s ample bar traffic, there is a sign on Barbara’s unlocked basement door: “Leave your shoes outside.” On any given weekend night there’s a handful of inebriated people passed out on her basement carpet or on the couch covered with a blanket. Because of Barbara and the cooperation of the local bar, intoxicated people aren’t stepping into their pickups and putting everyone at risk. They have a refuge now.
Those who stand among the widows, orphaned, poor, elderly, and sloshed, stand with Jesus. Those who don’t aren’t of his kind. They don’t bear his mark. In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees worried about fine-tuned personal morality and the best seats in the house. Jesus rejected appearances and legalism about letters of the Bible while neglecting compassion for the “least of these.” Like the Hebrew prophets before him, Jesus admonished leaders for neglecting poverty stricken widows, refugees, orphans, and homeless. Jesus told his followers, “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).